Cobots are advancing within the automotive industry. Not only in the factories where industrial robots were just about invented, but also at the automotive suppliers.
General Motors started with industrial robots in the early 60s of the last century and these are the robots we still know: the large, heavy robot arms that weld cars together or spray paint them.
Changes within the automotive industry
The automotive industry has changed since the 1960s: technological changes and market changes also demand a change in production methods. The market requires "super-personalization" (smaller series), more new features in cars and therefore more parts. Increased customization requires flexibility: in production processes and in the physical adjustments on the production floor. To remain competitive, there is a need for increased output; to meet safety requirements, a need for consistent quality and accuracy.
At the same time, human labour has become more costly and unpredictable. Labour shortages due to ageing and a shortage of people in technical positions is no help, and the same goes for stricter health and safety regulations. A lot of manual work is still being done within the automotive sector, which is physically demanding due to weight or repetitiveness.
Cobotization is the solution
Unlike the industrial robot, which is riveted to the floor, shielded from people and working a single task, you can add a cobot cell to a production process without having to adjust your factory floor. Cobots do not need fencing and are thus a much more compact solution.
Cobots are so easy to operate that this can be done by employees who work with them. This, in combination with their light weight, makes them flexible. Standardized production processes are starting to make way for today's ideal production process: flexible assembly and production design by making it modular and mobile.
Replacing, supplementing or supporting manual work with cobots results in a reduction of inactive time for employees, increases production and consistency in quality. Employees can make fuller use of their potential by being relieved of dull, dirty and dangerous tasks. Follow the example of other companies in the automotive sector, such as: